Le memorie di un Film
Notfilm di Ross Lipman
It’s been five decades since Film was first shown at the 26th edition of the Venice International Film Festival. Yet the 1965 short film, directed by Alain Schneider and based on the only script written for the big screen by Samuel Beckett, enjoys a new wave of interest. Digitally restored in 4k by filmmaker, archivist, preservationist and performer Ross Lipman, Film has began to tour the world once again, showing in many theaters, festivals and Cinematheques thanks to the tireless work of newly founded distribution company Reading Bloom and, well established, Milestone Films. This has re-opened discussion on the enigmatic short feature that, inspired from the metaphysical doctrine of irish philosopher George Berkeley, esse est percipi, sees an ‘Object’ (that is, the main character portrayed by Buster Keaton ) shadowed by an ‘Eye’. The main interest though, is in part due to the kino-essay, which is not a simple documentary, by Ross Lipman. In Notfilm, a documentary showed after Film at every screening, the director shows us the unseen cuts, unreleased material, photos, notes and audio recordings he rediscovered during the restoration process of the short film that raise an array of new, challenging questions (is Beckett Keaton alter ego?). Furthermore, this cine-essay seems to have another hidden layer, seemingly more ambitious and personal, that tries to go beyond Film itself. This is an aspect that, I think, is worth investigating. Extremely significant in that sense are Lipman’s words. When introducing his own work he declares: “Notfilm today, like Beckett at the time, yearns at the Joyce ideal for which a work of art shouldn’t be just about things but should be a thing in itself”.